Leadership Talk with Elazar Moskovits | Joseph J. Sherman

Originally from Montreal, Canada; Elazar came to Israel to study at The Belz Yeshiva in Jerusalem.  Now he is part of the Start-Up Nation’s success as the founder and CEO of MoskTech Electronics Ltd, a successful electronic product design and development company based in Ashdod that has done many successful projects for companies from around the world. 

When did you become interested in electronics?

Elazar Moskovits (Courtesy).

I was always fascinated with understanding how things worked.  I began breaking up my toys into little pieces when I was five years old.  Then I would figure out how to put them back together.  As I grew, my passion for electronics and engineering only grew.  

My first job was developing Shabbos refrigerator solutions.  In the first year, I worked with a team of engineers to build a system that sets the refrigerator into Shabbos Mode automatically. 

The next year I worked on a device that checks blood sugar on Shabbos for people with diabetes.          

What is Shabbos Mode? 

Orthodox Jews who keep the Shabbat and do not do any electrical work not medically necessary always seek ways to minimize their desecration of the Sabbath. Thus, an industry has developed producing kosher ovens, Sabbath elevators, and computerized systems of all kinds that allow even the most ultra-orthodox jews to “enjoy” electricity without violating the Sabbath. 

A well-known example of this is the renowned Laniado Hospital in Netanya, Israel.  At Laniado,   besides technologies in use such as the types mentioned above, also have non-Jewish staff answer phones and perform writing tasks on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

So, how does a Belz Haredi in yeshiva end up starting a company in Israel’s high-tech sector? 

One day my wife told me she had an idea for a pillow that plays music when the baby’s head is on the pillow.  She said this would be a nice way of putting children to sleep.  I loved the idea and thought about how to create it.  

I set up a workshop in our basement.  And, as the musical pillow went from a concept to reality, so did my dream of creating my own company.

And while the pillow ultimately went nowhere due to an issue with a patent license that made it not worthwhile to pursue, I still have the original pillows we created. And they still work! 

How did you expand from the musical pillow to your current company?

As an engineer, I am always thinking of the next version of a product.  How can I make something bigger, faster, more sophisticated?  I took the same approach with my business.  

I built a reputation as someone who can design and engineer products.  When you are good, people refer you to others.  In a matter of months, I had customers all over the world, including The US, Canada, and France.  As my client list grew, so did the scope of my projects, and I changed from being an engineering firm to a product development company.

Some of my clients are well-known companies internationally, but some of the ones I’d love to name drop to showcase our success, ironically, are ones that I am unable to disclose by NDA. Let’s just say that practically every reader of your article will be familiar with these prestigious companies.

What other kinds of projects do you work on?

My main focus is helping innovators to create their products, taking ideas and turning them into real, working products– without costing them a fortune.

One project that we just finished was to make it easier to move large pieces of furniture such as a dining room table, bookshelf, or a dresser.  We designed a robotic moving rubber ball that picks up the furniture so that it can be easily moved.  This is great for hotels and conference centers that move furniture often. The produce is totally invisible when the furniture is stationary- but saves a tremendous amount of time, manpower, and reduces damage to floors and walls significantly.

In the plumbing space, we also developed for a client an automatic cleaning system for lavatories. It was a project that was a success for our client– although we are glad we aren’t in that business ourselves!

And while it is effortless for the user, it was technically very challenging.

What was so challenging about it?

Because normally, this kind of program sits on an operating system, which would make it a cinch to program. But, since having an operating system on the device would mean a whole level of electronics that would make the price significantly more expensive.

So we enabled the entire product to work without needing an operating system, which makes the design the challenge that we undertook to make this product happen– and thus, lower manufacturing costs per unit that enabled our client to both markets the product at a considerable profit, while giving the end-user a wonderful Digital Time Display at a much lower price point than would otherwise be possible.

What other systems have you developed?

We also recently created a system for a well-known chain of supermarkets shopping carts.  The challenge with shopping carts is that people sometimes take them from the supermarket home to save themselves carrying bags when they don’t have a car… and often, perhaps unintentionally, forget to return them.  This was a significant loss for my client, as shopping carts can cost 2000 NIS each!

Secondly, when customers come into the store and see that there are no shopping carts they leave without buying…  And to eliminate those problems, we built a GPS based system that allows a store manager to know in real-time where each cart is live, much like the way a taxi dispatcher can see all his taxis driving across town in real-time.

And, when the store is low on carts out front, a worker knows where to go to collect them.  The people have carts to shop with, and statistics show that a customer with a cart to shop with will spend significantly more than one who does not… it also alerts the store when a cart is more than a given number of meters from the supermarket parking lot, and enables quick collection before those carts disappear, possibly for good.

How is Mosktech Electronics unique compared with other companies in the field, especially in Israel?

We help small companies and investors, and we also help bigger companies on the mechanical side.  For entrepreneurs and smaller companies,  we do the whole project from start to finish, and for bigger projects, a specific part of the project is outsourced to us for our expertise and competitive pricing. We work alongside many well-known names in the electronics and product development industries to get projects completed on time and in-budget.

How large is your team?

We have an agile team of highly experienced engineers, technical experts, and project managers.  This includes a mix of full-time employees, freelancers, and consultants.  We have sixteen Full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.  

Why did you choose this business model?

Our people have experience at companies including Elbit Systems and Intel. We are truly experts at what we do, and I’m extremely proud of them.    When we take on a project, it’s because we have seen it before, and we are confident in our ability to not just deliver, but wow the client with our performance.

How do you work together as a team?

We have people, from Haredi (Ultra-orthodox) to Hiloni (secular.) We work well together as a team, and we have a camaraderie that is really nice. 

What were the challenges that you faced on your path to success?  

My first challenge was the risk of leaving my job.  I was 21 when I started my company. I was married with one child.  It was scary.  I didn’t know what to do.  I just jumped in and worked hard.   

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business?

Seek out, experts.  For every part of your business, you need an expert.  Never ask logistics advice from an accountant, and don’t ask accounting advice from an engineer.    

For me, this is especially true with marketing  Many people open businesses and ask their friends for advice about advertisements.  Then they end up with nothing.  

I went to an “expensive”  marketing expert when I started my business.  He mapped out several strategic ideas and plans for how to grow the company.  

Then I spoke to my accountant, who said it’s expensive to implement what the marketing expert said.  My accountant said I should try to do it myself.  I followed my accountant’s advice because he knows about money.  

I tried to do it myself, and I messed up. It took me several years to get over that experience and put the company on the right foot, leading to the success we are blessed with today. In hindsight, it was a lot more expensive to listen to my accountant and seek someone less qualified for “cheaper” than to hire the right person the first time around. Ultimately, we went back to the “very expensive” advisor that we had originally gone to… and it has truly helped us reboot at that point and take everything we’d done right to new heights of success, Baruch Hashem. 

So a takeaway from that for entrepreneurs is to follow the advice of the experts.  But don’t confuse an expert in one area for an expert in another; when speed is important, and when there are expenditures every month to keep a company going, you should try to cut down on that unprofitable time to leapfrog the phase of the business that is often called “the messy middle.” 

Use your strengths and get the right guidance from the right people to truly become a company that stands out and generates business sooner, rather than “schvitzing” or sweating it out for a long period. The sooner we moved forward and realized the importance of speed and strategy implementation, the sooner we became profitable and were able to move over the hump that held us back. This has been something that truly has helped us become the success that MoskTech is at today.

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Written by Aakash Malu


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